The Boston Public Library: Our City’s Best Free Resource

Filed in Arts & Entertainment, Things To Do by on August 5, 2009 3 Comments

Remember spending days on end in the local public library as a child? When reading books, playing games, or fumbling around on the ancient computers was considered a good time? You know, the time when video games strictly consisted of shooting an orange gun at flying poultry on the television screen? Heading to the local library was an exciting journey to a land of unlimited activities and possibilities. Yet as we get older, young professionals seem to drift away from the libraries into mass-market bookstores, or unfortunately, non-reading existences.  The excuse of “I don’t have time!” rings in the ears of librarians. But even if you aren’t a member of the pink-slipped fun-employed population with time and money to burn, chances are your television gets switched on when you hit the couch after work. But in a city whose history is so strongly based in literature, missing out on your local library is practically a crime.

In this week alone, the various Boston Public Library branches offer activities such as story times for children, English for Speakers of Other Languages conversation groups, chess matches, knitting circles, reiki, yoga classes, and a multitude of other free events for children and adults. Did you know there are 27 branches of the Boston Public Library? Neighborhoods ranging from Beacon Hill and East Boston to Southie and Jamaica Plain house unique literary collections stuffed with books, magazines, movies, music, and historical information. If you don’t live too close to the Boston Public Library’s main branch in Copley Square, it can be easy to find an excuse to stay home on the couch. However, practically every Boston neighborhood is home to its own smaller branch of the BPL. If you’re looking for a specific book but aren’t sure if your branch will have it in stock, simply visit the BPL’s home page and look it up in the online catalog.

The financial benefits of utilizing your local library are obvious examples of how to save in a period of economic downturn. Hardcover books at big chain stores cost around $25 a pop, and paperbacks can cash out at over $10 each. Attaining a Boston Public Library card is absolutely free, which means the only time you’ll actually have to pay for books is if you’re late returning them.  And in all seriousness, do you really need to purchase that paperback copy of The Nanny Diaries, only to see it take up space on your shelf forever? Not to mention the mounds of cash you put towards ritzy yoga classes at the gym, when you could attend the library’s class for free.

You’re probably tired of hearing about “being green.” But the sustainability movement is an important one, and in coming years the realization that we must deal with the damages that we’ve inflicted upon the environment will only gain more momentum. Instead of buying everything new, we can save extensive space in landfills if we simply reuse what’s old. Instead of buying new publications, library books are a highly sustainable method of educating yourself. It’s the easiest form of recycling known to man.

Remember those “Think Globally, Act Locally” bumper stickers that dominated the bumpers of cars throughout the 90’s? While the statement has become a stereotypical mantra of environmentalism, it really does emphasize the importance of supporting local establishments. When you patronize your local library, you’re supporting the city of Boston’s financial and cultural infrastructure. This means they can bring us even more cultural activities and author lecture series. Certainly sounds better that having your hard-earned cash go straight to the bigwigs at Barnes and Noble, doesn’t it? In an age where basically everything costs an arm and a leg, it’s important remember that we need to preserve the institutions that provide us with so much for free.

Visit the Boston Public Library’s website at

A frequent contributor to, Megan Johnson is originally from Connecticut, but has lived in Boston since age 18. She regularly contributes to MenuPages Boston, ButterflyDiary, Reinventing Beauty Magazine, and SweetTalk on the Spot. You can visit her website at


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  1. Mary says:

    great article Megs……….good reminder to all of us about what our libes have to offer…….I found myself at our library three times over vaca, but there’s no reason I can’t do the same when I’m back at work!!

  2. Megan says:

    hahahaha thanks mom. you’re pretty much my most frequent commenter.

  3. johnny says:

    Hi Megan. Thank you for this great info!

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